On this week’s Listen Frontier podcast we talk with Amanda DeCort and Tom Wallace about the state’s Historic Tax Credit program.
The program provides tax credits to developers who turn often-forgotten buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places into income-generating properties.
DeCort worked on historic preservation programs for the city of Tulsa for a decade before becoming the executive director of the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture in March 2015.
“Not only does the tax credit program turn buildings into productive uses but the program adds jobs and revenue and attracts investment into the Oklahoma economy,” DeCort said.
Tulsa developers have used the Historic Tax Credit program to repurpose 18 structures, including the Mayo Hotel building, the Tribune Lofts building and 36 Degrees North, and more are in the works.
DeCort spends a lot time each year working to convince state legislators that the Historic Tax Credit program is worth saving. This year she armed herself with some ammunition — a study, commissioned by Tulsa Foundation for Architecture, that lays out the economic benefits of the program.
The study was done by Donovan Rypkema of PlaceEconomics of Washington, D.C. Here are some of his key findings:
- Seventy-seven rehabilitation projects were completed between 2001 and 2015 representing investment of more than $500 million
- For every $1 of tax credits issued, $11.70 in economic activity is generated
- Tax credit projects have generated almost $310 million in pay for Oklahoma workers over the live of the program
- The state of Oklahoma gets back more than half of its tax credit expenditure on a project before the credit is awarded. This is because developers pay taxes on employees and materials as the project is being built yet do not receive the tax credit until the project is completed.
- Developers have invested an average of 25 percent more into a project than what they receive the tax credit for. For example, a developer might rehabilitate an historic building and add building next to it.
The state Legislature is expected to adjourn Friday, and DeCort said the Historic Tax Credit program seems to have escaped the cutting block.
“As far as I know there are no active bills,” DeCort said.
Wallace is the founder of Wallace Engineering and a newbie developer. He used the tax credit program to turn the old Pershing Elementary School in Owen Park into the PS14: Pershing Studios, 1903 W. Easton St.
He said he absolutely would not have been able to do the project had the tax credits now been available.